UPDATE 2-Britain says won't stand in way of Nexen-CNOOC deal

Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:46am EST
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* Effectively clears CNOOC purchase of major North Sea field

* Buzzard field key to setting Brent benchmark oil prices

* US committee might be last big hurdle for the deal

By Karolin Schaps

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Britain will not stand in the way of a $15.1 billion takeover of Nexen by CNOOC , allowing the Chinese company to snap up the Canadian group's stake in a major North Sea field that helps set the Brent global oil benchmark.

While Canada approved the deal on Friday, Nexen's chief executive said on Monday China's biggest ever foreign takeover was nowhere near done.

A further decision on the transaction rests with a U.S. foreign investment panel which gets a say because Nexen has exploration and production assets in the Gulf of Mexico.

Britain's clearance of the deal is also important because Nexen has 43 percent of the Buzzard oilfield, Britain's largest and pumping about 200,000 barrels per day.

"We will not stand in the way," Mike Hawkins, head of oil and gas licence administration at Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), told Reuters. "The licence does not change, no formal approval is needed," he said, adding the department has had discussions with CNOOC and Nexen.   Continued...